A Giant Spot and Open Data

A Giant Spot

On July 10, 2017, Juno completed its 7th and final close flyby of the gas giant, Jupiter. (In cosmic terms, “close flyby” meant 6,130 miles.) In this final flyby, the Juno spacecraft snapped a close-up shot of the Giant Red Spot, a hurricane-like storm that is as big as Earth and that has been raging for at least 160 years.

juno1NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt

Launched in August 2011, Juno’s job is to closely collect and gather data on Jupiter. NASA states Juno’s explicit goals are to:

  • Determine how much water is in Jupiter’s atmosphere, which helps determine which planet formation theory is correct (or if new theories are needed)
  • Look deep into Jupiter’s atmosphere to measure composition, temperature, cloud motions and other properties
  • Map Jupiter’s magnetic and gravity fields, revealing the planet’s deep structure
  • Explore and study Jupiter’s magnetosphere near the planet’s poles, especially the auroras – Jupiter’s northern and southern lights – providing new insights about how the planet’s enormous magnetic force field affects its atmosphere.

Overall, this mission will give us a better understanding of how Jupiter begin and how it evolved into the planet it is today.

Open Data

US Copyright law states a work “prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties” is not subject to domestic copyright law. Meaning, most of the work created and published by the US government are no copyrighted, and therefore, can be used for any educational and informational purposes.

Take, for example, the picture of Jupiter’s Giant Red Spot seen above. This image was manipulated and composed by a citizen scientist using raw data gathered by NASA, a government agency. It was the right of this citizen scientist to us this information for their own and the community’s informational needs. We, as citizens, have as equal of ownership of the data as the government because we paid for the acquisition and distribution through our tax dollars.

This extends beyond just the data and information collected by NASA. All government departments and agencies are fantastic resources for gathering research sources. These agencies provide raw and analyzed data that can be used for research and educational purposes.

Here are some excellent government resources for your college projects:

The open  access to United States Government data is a right not shared by many other countries. It allows for open discussion and analysis of publicly funded practices and scientific inquiries. Unfortunately, I could not include access to the EPA’s data on climate change as the current administration has removed that information.



What’s Happening in NASA News?

NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft launches aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41, Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, Cape Canaveral, Florida.If you haven’t figured out by now, I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m a bit of a space buff. I follow multiple astronauts on Twitter and Facebook, I get weekly emails updating me on the goings-on at NASA, and I attend space-related events. So what has been going on lately? Well, there was a rocket launch this past Monday! Don’t worry; NASA Kennedy puts up videos on YouTube where you can live or relive it.

This rocket was an Atlas V and launched the robotic explorer MAVEN up to study Mars’ atmosphere. MAVEN stands for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN. I know that it has at least one spectrometer and some other scientific instruments, but if I wanted to learn more about the launch and what MAVEN is going to do, I’d have to do some research.

Since it’s a current event, I’d start with the library’s LexisNexis database. I did a search for “maven” and decided to start with the newspapers. From an Associated Press article I found out that MAVEN has eight instruments on it to investigate the upper atmosphere and help us understand better how to land a ship with humans in it in the future. I also found more details about the mission in this article telling us MAVEN will start orbiting Mars on September 22, 2014 and they hope the explorer will get a glimpse of the Comet ISON as well.

If you’re really interested in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM), there is a way you can get involved! Specific to community college students, you can apply to be an aerospace scholar. There are just a few requirements, the main ones being that you have taken at least 9 hours (usually 3 classes) in the STEM fields and that you are currently enrolled at a community college. Maybe you got some of gen ed requirements out of the way already or took classes such as biology, chemistry, astronomy, physics, math, technology, or programming.

If you have questions, come see me, Kelly Mueller, but hurry, since the application due date is Tuesday, November 26th! Click here to apply.

Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASA meets the United States Navy

One of my favorite things to do is take NASA related trips. That’s right; I like to go places where people who work for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are going to be teaching us about all types of activities they take part in. I have seen two space shuttles nose to nose. I have listened to John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, talk about what it was like to go into space. I have seen some of the activities that astronauts take part in at space camp. Most recently I went to a naval base in Norfolk, Virginia where I saw a water recovery test of a model of the Orion capsule that will one day take astronauts into deep space to places such as the moon, Mars, or an asteroid.

Orion with the diving teams in front of a battleship.
Orion with the diving teams in front of a battleship.

It was my first time on a naval base, and it was very interesting.
A K-9 unit, like those in Soldier Dogs by Maria Goodavage, had their dog sniff our bags before we could get too close to the water. Then a person searched each of our bags and we had to go through a metal detector. We heard from Navy chiefs about the work their divers were doing to recover the Orion capsule. We saw huge battleships that could fit helicopters on deck and aircraft carriers that were even longer to fit a runway and airplanes.

Orion in drained well deck
Orion capsule on board after the well deck was drained.

Then we got to tour a battleship. We saw the well deck where they put Orion after they recovered it and drained all the water from the ship.

We saw the bunks where the soldiers sleep, turrets for the machine guns, the captain’s chair, the operating room with X-ray machines, and more.

One of the operating rooms on board.
One of the operating rooms on board.

It was an amazing and inspiring trip, making me prouder and more impressed by the U.S. Navy. If you would like to learn how the Navy helps NASA, Prairie State has an eBook for you – Navy’s needs in space for providing future capabilities.

Continue reading to find out what books and sources you can use to learn more about NASA and the Navy and see more pictures of my trip. Continue reading “NASA meets the United States Navy”